The 107th post from the Journal of American Greatness originally published in May, 2016.
We doubt any angry Trump supporters have literally put these two stories together. Our doubts would be valid even if we believed more than a trivial number of Trump supporters read the New York Times. Still, the twopieces fit together like a yin and a yang.
The first is about North Wilkesboro, NC—a dying, formerly industrial town quite close to the fictional Mayberry, where Sheriff Andy Taylor dispensed gentle justice for eight years in the 1960s. The social center of town is no longer Floyd’s barber shop but the “vape shop”—i.e., the dispensary of e-cigarettes in various exotic and improbable flavors.
There is no hope there. The textile mills and furniture makers—long the bedrocks of the local economy—have either closed or so reduced their output that barely anyone can make a living. The only person who seems to make any money is the local lawyer who defends his former high school classmates against drug charges and represents them in family court.
Trump is very popular in North Wilkesboro.
The second is about a town where Trump is very unpopular. President Obama, we recall, will break tradition and stay on in the capital after his term ends. Naturally, he’s got a swell place lined up. That’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is that this $6 million, nine-bedroom home in Washington’s very fanciest neighborhood—where Donald Rumsfeld, who had been a Big Pharma CEO, lived when he was SecDef; where also sits the French Ambassador’s magnificent Tudor, a home grand enough that Vanity Fair chooses it as the setting for their legendary “please-ya-gotta-lemme-in” White House Correspondents Dinner after-party—this fine home befitting a soon-to-be former President of the United States is owned by … Joe Lockhart.
Let that sink in for a moment. Joe Lockhart was one of Bill Clinton’s five Press Secretaries. Not one of the famous ones, either. Now, Press Secretary is not an easy job. It requires an agile mind, a way with words, and a command of policy and politics. It’s also high-profile. No surprise, therefore, that talented people find their way to the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room podium, become well-known, and later do very well for themselves.
But still. The house in question was first owned by one
Capt. Charles Hamilton Maddox, a veteran of both world wars, who in 1912 designed and tested, in-flight, the first successful radio equipment used in Naval aircraft. His daughter, Muriel Maddox, acted alongside Marlon Brando in the movie “The Men” and wrote a number of romance novels.
The article continues:
The neighborhood has long been home to prominent politicians, including Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover and Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Socially and economically, Press Secretaries have come a long way! The article notes that, until recently, Lockhart had worked as “the managing director of a communications and political consulting practice he founded, the Glover Park Group.” I.e., the fortune that Lockhart “earned” to buy Captain Maddox’s house was acquired through the typical rent-seeking—or, to be more precise, the facilitation of rent-seeking—practiced by virtually everyone lucky enough to score a high-level, high-profile Washington government job. How does that compare with designing and flight-testing the first successful radio equipment used in Naval aircraft? In any event, we don’t know the exact figures, but you can bet that the price of that home has soared well beyond inflation as the contributions to society of its residents has plummeted. A fitting commentary on what 2016 America “values” in contrast to America circa 1928, no?
Meanwhile, down in North Wilkesboro, people who used to actually make things that improved lives and boosted the GDP of our country are poorer than they’ve been since the Great Depression.
There is perhaps not a strict 1:1 relationship between the poverty of North Wilkesboro and the tidal wave of wealth washing over the Beltway. It’s not like Washington is robbing the former to pay for nine-bedroom mansions in Kalorama. Is it? No, that would be too obvious. It’s rather that rentiers like Lockhart get rich helping even bigger rentiers get even richer by pushing policies that favor the Davoisie agenda, which acts as an irrigation system to drain cash and opportunity out of places like North Wilkesboro and pour it into Washington, D.C. and its surrounding counties.
It really does take a Conservative Pundit not to understand the appeal of Trump.